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Mother arrested in Mpls. abuse case of twin daughters with disabilities

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A 48-year-old Minneapolis woman was  jailed Friday on three counts of neglect in an abuse case that the prosecutor called the most horrifying case he's ever seen. 

The woman is the mother of 21-year-old twin daughters, who have developmental disabilities. Her husband and the twins' father was charged Tuesday. He remains jailed in Hennepin County accused of assaulting, stalking, raping and abusing their daughters. Both are jailed in lieu of $750,000 bond.

The mother was charged with two counts of felony criminal neglect and one count of misdemeanor neglect in the case.  

MPR News is not naming the mother or the father to protect the identities of the victims, who are sexual assault victims.

"It's pretty clear that these twin girls who were vulnerable adults had some limited capacity to communicate," Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman said earlier this week.

Charges: Beating, rape and torture

It appears the neglect and abuse came to the attention of authorities nearly a year ago, when police were called to the family's home in April 2017 to investigate a domestic assault complaint.

Investigators say interviews with the family's 21-year-old daughters revealed they had been repeatedly injured, chained by their ankles to a door, refused food and beaten with paddles and clubs — assaults that nearly severed one victim's ear and left her blind in one eye. 

Results of a forensic examination found the women's injuries consistent with torture.

Police say one daughter told investigators that her father had raped her and she was pregnant with his child. The criminal complaint says she gave birth to a girl in October. DNA testing indicated her father was a likely father of that child. Police removed her and another younger girl from the family's south Minneapolis home. The other twin daughter was found at a Minneapolis homeless shelter.

The father made his first court appearance Thursday. A public defender told the judge that the man is on Social Security and has mental disabilities.

Court granted guardianship in 2014 and 2016

The criminal complaint says the father and his wife had petitioned for and been granted guardianship of their twin daughters in 2014, and had the guardianship renewed in 2016. 

One of the twins was found to have the intellectual skills and behavior of a 7-year-old. The other twin had a less severe disability, but an assessment found she wasn't capable of living independently.

Police also interviewed the family's third daughter, now 11, who didn't show any signs of abuse. But the complaint against her father says she told investigators she'd been assaulted previously with a golf club, that she'd witnessed assaults against her sisters and had even been ordered to assault them herself.

'House of horrors'

Freeman told reporters Thursday the case is as horrifying as anything he's seen as the county's top prosecutor.

"We had to act methodically and carefully to sift through what was happening in this house of horrors," Freeman said. "This is a very complex and complicated case."

"It's pretty clear that these twin girls who were vulnerable adults had some limited capacity to communicate," Freeman said. "I'm quite convinced at the threat of serious violence that these two young women were told to deny any wrongdoing was occurring."

When asked why it took nine months to charge the couple, Freeman said it was a complex case and that investigators were combing through medical records and also conducting DNA tests proving the father had a child with one of the twins. Freeman added there wasn't evidence the father was a threat to the public.

"The people he had harmed were all away from him and out of harm's way," he said.